Eq: Total Market


Ford reported earnings this week, and they speak not only to its own weakness, but to the headwinds facing the US car industry. Full year 2018 earnings declined considerably from the previous year on weak North American sales, as well as a poor performance in Europe and China. Ford’s CEO continues to promise that plans for a major restructuring will be released soon, but as yet, investors have been given little more than promises for change.

FINSUM: Ford is hurting worse than GM, but both companies are facing product lineups that are mismatched to current customer demand, which means the next couple of years are going to be challenging.

(New York)

Markets are doing well this year, but there is a lot for investors to worry about. Aside from the current ongoing shutdown, there is a debt ceiling deadline on March 1st (which is sure to be another political nightmare, and may yet intersect with the shutdown), a deadline for a Chinese trade deal, and a scheduled Brexit on March 29th. That is a lot of potential crises on the calendar. However, valuations have fallen considerably alongside share price falls and P/E declines, and the market seems to be regaining its optimistic footing. Corporate earnings look to stay strong in 2019, which will help support the market.

FINSUM: There are a lot of analysts who think this is a bear market bounce, and many others who think the worst is behind us. We are starting to side with the optimists.

(New York)

One of the big themes in the asset management industry right now is the possibility of consolidation. A big plunge in asset manager share prices and falling fees has added motivation for managers to tie up to increase scale and efficiency. Invesco’s recent deal to acquire OppenheimerFunds is a great example. However, regulators are reporting discussing such deals and are apparently concluding that the passive management business has grown uncompetitive, with just three firms dominating the space. Interestingly, the worries over competitiveness are not centered on the asset management industry itself, but rather how having a few large managers, each of whom own each other and other companies’ shares, makes the whole economy less competitive. The big three asset managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, are not the largest shareholders in 88% of S&P 500 companies. This whole situation, and the worries attached to it are referred to as “common ownership”.

FINSUM: One can see how this would make the economy less competitive, but more specifically, it may mean that it is harder for asset managers to push deals through.

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